This article is part of our KBO Power Rankings series.
We're through the final KBO games of August, though there's a chance it could be some time before we see the first games of September. Last week, we seemed to have narrowly escaped a possible shutdown of the league as coronavirus cases continue to rise in South Korea and threaten to shut down public gatherings of any notable size. The Korean government elected to restrict the activities of restaurants and bars but leave the KBO untouched for now, per Daniel Kim of DKTV.
The story could change for the worse at any moment, however, as an Eagles minor-leaguer was revealed to have tested positive for the virus Monday, which could potentially lead to a league-wide shutdown. That would be quite unfortunate, as we've got quite an exciting playoff push on our hands over the final seven weeks of the campaign, and it would be quite a shame to see it interrupted. The Dinos have moved back into a 1.5-game lead over the Heroes atop the standings, though the Heroes could take the lead with a sweep of the sides' two-game series that kicks off the upcoming week. The back end of the playoff picture is just as tight, with the Wiz holding just a one-game lead over the the Giants and a 1.5-game lead over the Tigers for the fifth and final playoff spot.
1. Kiwoom Heroes
Last Week: 1
Run Differential: +81
The Lowdown: While the Heroes did give up a small amount of ground to the league-leading Dinos this past week, there's little reason to complain about their performance, as they went a solid 4-2, with their pair of losses coming by a total of two runs. They remain slightly ahead of the Dinos for me, as they went 17-9 in August while the Dinos went just 11-12, but the two side's respective rankings this time next week will likely be determined by the results of the pair's two-game midweek series.
DFS Name to Know: Ha Seong Kim homered three times last week – giving him 22 for the season – and owns a .372/.460/.651 slash line over his last 11 contests.
2. NC Dinos
Last Week: 3
Run Differential: +116
The Lowdown: The Dinos' 5-1 record over their last two games becomes less impressive when considering that four of those wins came against the Wyverns and Eagles, but you can only beat the teams in front of you, and the Dinos have started doing that again following an extended stretch of mediocrity. Their offense was really clicking over the past week, as they managed at least seven runs in all five of their victories, though they have tougher tests coming up, as their next four games come against the Heroes and Twins, who own the league's top two pitching staffs by runs allowed per game.
DFS Name to Know: Sung Bum Na homered five times last week and has been on a tear over his last 20 contests, hitting .400/.452/.812 with nine homers, 24 runs and 28 RBI over that stretch.
3. LG Twins
Last Week: 4
Run Differential: +84
The Lowdown: The Twins move back up a spot after going 4-1-1 over their last six games, including a 3-0-1 record against a pair of fellow playoff teams in the Wiz and Bears, and they could keep climbing this week if they can beat the Dinos on Thursday and Friday. Excellent pitching has been the key to their resurgence, as they've allowed just 3.5 runs per game over their last 17 contests, a stretch in which they've gone 12-4-1.
DFS Name to Know: Roberto Ramos homered two more times last week to give him eight in his last 16 games, a stretch in which he hit .328/.409/.793.
4. KT Wiz
Last Week: 2
Run Differential: +44
The Lowdown: The Wiz's second-place ranking in the previous edition of this column may well end up being their high-water mark, as they stumbled to a 2-4 record over their last six games after going 15-6 over their previous 21. Still, a fourth-place ranking here (and a fifth-place ranking in the standings) is quite impressive given their early-season struggles, and they look like a very legitimate playoff team at this point, as they join the three teams above them in these rankings as the only teams to rank in the top half in both runs scored and runs allowed.
DFS Name to Know: Baek Ho Kang didn't manage a single homer over a 25-game stretch from July 11 to August 18, but he's since hit four in his last 11 contests while posting a .349/.417/.721 slash line.
5. Doosan Bears
Last Week: 5
Run Differential: +58
The Lowdown: The Bears continue to look like little more than a bubble team, as they split appear of games with the mediocre Tigers before managing just a win and a tie in four games against a pair of true contenders in the Dinos and Twins. They've been exactly a .500 team over their last 39 games, going 18-18-3, and it's hard to envision them becoming anything more than that any time soon, as their eighth-ranked pitching staff continues to hold back their second-ranked lineup.
DFS Name to Know: The Bears are still really hurting for rotation depth as Chris Flexen remains out with a broken foot, but Won Joon Choi has emerged as at least a capable mid-rotation option, posting a 3.18 ERA over eight starts since stepping into the rotation in Flexen's absence in mid-July.
6. Lotte Giants
Last Week: 6
Run Differential: +17
The Lowdown: The Giants continue to hang around in the playoff race after a 3-3 week in which they lost a pair of games to a strong Heroes side but went a sold 3-1 against the Wyverns and Eagles. Very little separates them from the seventh-ranked Tigers, who they lead by half a game in the standings. The pair play three games (including a doubleheader) this week, which could go a long way towards determining which team remains a legitimate contender.
DFS Name to Know: Ah Seop Son has six multi-hit games in his last 12, posting a .447/.488/.658 slash line over that stretch.
7. Kia Tigers
Last Week: 7
Run Differential: -24
The Lowdown: The Tigers seem to be pulling out of their spiral, though they're back to merely mediocre rather than looking like a contender again, as they've alternated wins and losses over their last eight contests. Their previously strong pitching staff, which ranked first in runs allowed not too long again, suddenly ranks just sixth in the league in that category, as they've allowed 8.3 runs per game over their last 11 contests, giving up double-digit runs five times.
DFS Name to Know: Hyun Jong Yang deserves yet another mention here, as he's the only thing preventing the Tigers' rotation from completely collapsing, posting a 2.63 ERA and a 10.5 K/9 over his last seven starts.
8. Samsung Lions
Last Week: 8
Run Differential: -23
The Lowdown: With just 49 games left, it would seemingly take a dramatic reversal of the Lions' recent fortunes if they're to close the seven-game gap that separates them from the fifth-place Wiz and end their four-year playoff drought. They've won just three of their last 12 games and rank in the bottom four in both runs scored and runs allowed, so it's difficult to see where that turnaround could come from.
DFS Name to Know: Not many Lions hitters are seeing the ball well lately, though Hae Min Park has six multi-hit games in his last eight, hitting .516 over that stretch.
9. SK Wyverns
Last Week: 10
Run Differential: -145
The Lowdown: I'd moved the Wyverns to last a few weeks ago following their eight-game losing streak in late July and early August, but their 8-11 record since then, while certainly not good, is better than the Eagles' 6-12 record over the same stretch. They've outplayed the Eagles over the course of the season and outpace them in both runs scored and runs allowed (though they still trail everyone else in the league in both categories by a fair margin), which is enough for me to move them back up to ninth.
DFS Name to Know: Seung Won Moon bounced back from a poor start to strike out nine Tigers in his previous outing and has now allowed three or fewer earned runs in 13 of his last 15 starts.
10. Hanwha Eagles
Last Week: 9
Run Differential: -223
The Lowdown: At the time of last week's power rankings, the Eagles appeared to be starting something interesting, as they'd managed a three-game winning streak against a pair of good sides in the Wiz and Twins. Any brief glimpse of hope for the Eagles this season continues to be nothing more than a mirage, however, as they followed that up by winning just one of their last five games and remain clearly the league's least intimidating opponent.
DFS Name to Know: Chad Bell earns his third straight mention in this space following his third straight strong start, giving him a 0.47 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP and a 19:5 K:BB over that stretch.